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Why Am I Getting Shoulder Pain? – And Simple Tips To Ease It

Dr. Arnan Sisson, PT | December 1, 2022

Are you getting pain in your shoulder and worried about why it could be causing you pain?

We know that it can be scary not knowing why your shoulder is hurting or if it is a cause for concern.

Usually, you can be reassured that nothing really serious is going on!

We speak to hundreds of patients who come to us with pain in different parts of their shoulder.

We’ve put together this blog to explain 3 points on your shoulder where you may feel pain, the cause of your pain and 5 solutions to help you ease stiff and painful shoulders.

Why Am I Getting Shoulder Pain?

In our clinics we typically treat shoulder pain in these three areas.

Pain At The Top Of Your Shoulder

The first area of your shoulder you may be experiencing pain in is the top of your shoulder. This is called your AC joint where your collar bone and the top of your shoulder meet. This joint is held together by strong ligaments.

The top of your shoulder may begin to hurt or ache due to direct injury. This could be bumping your shoulder off an object or falling onto it.

Other reasons could be general wear and tear due to your age or repetitive activity. If you do a lot of heavy lifting or exercise with your arms, this can cause the joint to swell and become painful to move as well as restricting your movement.

Your Shoulder Blade Pain

Pain in your shoulder blade is sometimes described by patients as a dull and sore ache, a shooting pain up the part of the back between the shoulder blades or a hard knot underneath one of your shoulder blades.

This type of shoulder pain is usually related to muscle strain from exercise or heavy lifting, sleeping in an uncomfortable position or poor posture.

Pain From Your Rotator Cuff

Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround your shoulder joint keeping your upper arm in place while allowing you to have a broad range of movement in your shoulder.

Rotator cuffs can become torn for two main reasons.

The first is an acute tear resulting from falling on an outstretched arm or lifting something heavy with a jerk-like motion.

The second is related to wear and tear as you get older. A common issue in people over 40 sees their rotator cuff tendons be worn down over time with overuse. This issue is also more likely to develop in your dominant arm (the arm you do most things with).

How To Ease Your Shoulder Pain Naturally

Pause Physical Activity

We understand you may have been told to rest in the past and it hasn’t given you any long term relief.

However, to give your shoulder pain time to heal, you should pause any strenuous physical activity for a couple of days.

This could not only ease your shoulder pain but also prevent further injury to your shoulder.

Once you’ve rested for a while, you should reintroduce movement slowly which means easing yourself back into exercise and avoiding lifting heavy objects.

If it doesn’t improve with rest, and is still causing you problems after a week or so, it’s likely there is a more serious injury which needs specialist help.

Ice Or Heat Therapy

Ice or heat therapy can help you if you are in immediate pain and give you an alternative to strong painkillers which we know lots of people want to avoid.

Placing ice onto the sore area of your shoulder for up to 20 minutes at one time can create a numbing effect against the pain.

Heat therapy should be used in bursts of up to 20 minutes on the area of the shoulder that is in pain.

It’s important to note that you should only use one of these therapies every two hours and use a layer between the ice or heat and your shoulder to protect your skin.

However, you can interchange these therapies and work out which one suits you better.


Pain in your shoulder blades can often feel like a tight knot if you’ve pulled a muscle.

Massaging is a fantastic natural way to give you some pain relief as well as loosen up any stiffness and allow your muscles to relax, giving you a wider range of movement without any pain.

A Different Sleeping Position

Sleeping positions can sometimes make shoulder pain worse or even allow it to develop.

A side-sleeping position you could try to ease your shoulder pain is lying on the non-painful shoulder while pointing the painful one to the ceiling. Then, take a pillow and place it in the armpit of the injured shoulder.

This will allow the injured shoulder to be held up slightly, taking the pressure off your rotator cuff, giving you enough pain relief to get a good night’s sleep!

If you have shoulder blade pain, a good sleeping position to try is lying on your back with a small pillow nested between your shoulder blades.

Shoulder pain often occurs in the morning due to our bodies lying too flat during the night.

How Physical Therapy Can Ease Your Shoulder Pain Long Term 

If your shoulder pain is getting worse and you’re worried that you are losing movement in your arm, or you’ll have to have a painful injection, physical therapy could be the natural solution you’ve been looking for.

Our team have worked with thousands of patients suffering with agonizing shoulder pain just like you and could get you moving normally again in a matter of weeks!

Right now, we are currently experiencing extremely high demand in our clinics, but we are offering a limited number of free shoulder pain consultations.

Within your free shoulder pain consultation, you can find out more about PT and understand the best treatment options available to you.

Arrange your free shoulder pain consultation with our simple webform, or if you prefer to talk over the telephone, you can call us on (804) 493-3256 (accepting messages 24/7).

More Natural, Drug-Free Solutions To Your Shoulder Pain

Our founder, leading Northern Neck physical therapist, and author Arnan Sisson has written a FREE downloadable report for anyone who is suffering with neck and shoulder pain and wants to know…

“How To Ease Annoying, Daily, Irritating Neck and Shoulder Pain Naturally – Before It Gets Any Worse…”.

Click Here To Download Your Free Neck And Shoulder Pain Report

Over the last 5 years, we have helped THOUSANDS of people in the Northern Neck in our Montross location.

Other Free Resources For Shoulder Pain

Click Here To Read – How to AVOID “Throwing Out” Your Shoulder!

Click Here To Read – Simple Exercise To Help Shoulder Blade Pain

Click Here To Read – Simple Test To See If You “Actually” Need PT For That Shoulder Pain

We also have free, downloadable reports for people with Neck And Shoulder Pain

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